Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup

Long before smoothies and Juicing, a well-made chilled soup was haute cuisine.  The trick was to create balanced flavors in something cold, which is not easy to do.  It's easy to season something hot because the flavors pop.  In the cold, flavors dull.

The inspiration to make this was twofold.  One, Sprouts had cantaloupe on sale for 88¢ each.  Not per pound, each.  The other was that I'm taking a stay-cation next week and want to eat healthy, elegant food as if I was at a spa.  I even bought a five-pound bag of grapefruit to start my mornings healthy.  And I don't want to hear about how stupid it is to make a cold anything in February.  It was 85º yesterday and I picked yet more ripe tomatoes and huge spinach leaves.  If the local fauna and flora can't tell what time of year it is, then neither can I.

Going with the elegant theme, this is all about the presentation.  This recipe does not need a pine nut garnish, but it's the kind of thing you would get at a resort.  The yogurt is because I bought some for the roasted carrots and oranges and later decided not to use it.  Other possible garnishes include mint, sliced cucumber, walnuts, creme fraiche, or a purée of a complimentary fruit like raspberries.

I'm using lemon juice as the mixer in my recipe here because there are tons on the tree, but if you don't think your fruit is sweet enough you can use apple or white grape juice.  Alcohol is also optional.  It brightens up the flavors in cold foods without becoming a major presence.

1 medium cantaloupe (4 to 5 cups once cubed)
*1/2 C lemon juice (or apple or white grape)
1/8 tsp salt
sugar (or other sweetener) to taste
*1 Tb orange liqueur (optional.  other suggested alcohols are white wine, champagne, vodka, or rum.)
garnishes of choice

1. Remove peel from cantaloupe (how to cut a melon).  Remove seeds.  Chop into one-inch cubes.

2.  Place juice, salt, and about half of the fruit in a blender.  Purée until mostly smooth, then put in the rest of the fruit and run the blender until everything is very smooth.  Taste, and add sugar if needed.  Also add alcohol if using, and run blender again to distribute.

3.  Pour soup into a wide, shallow container and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  The foaminess the mixture picked up in the blender should settle out during the chilling process.

4.  Ladle into chilled bowls or cups and garnish.  Serve immediately.

Difficulty rating  π

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